Well it’s been quite a journey – so here’s the story…
The Kallini Puppets workshop is based in rural Northumberland, the northernmost county in England. It’s a beautiful and peaceful part of the world that’s a far cry from razzmatazz of the professional entertainment industry where our ventriloquist masks are known…..
Our masks are hand-made and have a reputation for their quality. We ship them to professional and amateur entertainers all around the world. But that’s not how it started….
Before electricity was invented
I wasn’t involved when Kallini Puppets first started, because I hadn’t been born at the time. It was over 60 years ago, before electricity was invented, that Oliver as a child began entertaining his schoolmates with magic tricks and puppet shows he’d devised himself. That’s me holding the box standing next to Oliver.
Living just outside London at the time, as he became more popular, Oliver morphed into ‘Mr. Olly’, a full-time professional entertainer. At 21 years old he was successful and had his own theatre on the south coast.
He made his own puppets and magic tricks to perform with. Other entertainers soon began asking him to make props for them too, which he did. It wasn’t long before demand for his stuff was such that his own stage performing took a backseat and the Kallini Puppets workshop got started.
Being a performer of many years himself, Oliver knew how much stick stage props get, and so how well they needed to be made. That’s the ethos behind the design of Kallini Puppets’ products, and why it has the reputation for the quality it does. For over 30 years now, Kallini Puppets has made ventriloquist dummies, puppets and magic props for the entertainment industry. That’s Julian Clary with a Kallini Puppets ventriloquist dummy in 2012.
Ventriloquist masks seen on TV
About 12 years ago, Kallini Puppets began making comedy moving mouth masks for stage shows. Hand-made to the same high standards, they were a hilarious niche prop seen mainly just by live audiences.
When such masks started to appear on mainstream television, interest from amateur entertainers and ordinary fun-loving people that wanted to get one was huge. Ever since then, Kallini Puppets has concentrated solely on designing and making ventriloquist masks. If you would like to see how we design a new mask, click here.
That’s Oliver with the super talented Nina Conti at one of her gigs in Newcastle.
Oliver brought me in to the business to help out, as he planned his well-deserved retirement. To this day he remains the creative talent behind Kallini Puppets, bringing his years of performing and prop-building experience to the party.
I don’t think he’ll ever retire if I’m honest – Oliver, Mr. Olly, Kallini Puppets – all the same thing really…